Home » Attorneys » Sutherland, J. Michael

"Cookie-cutter solutions from one matter won’t necessarily work next year or even in the next matter. There’s a right way and sometimes a wrong way to do it. Whenever possible, I prefer to crack the safe rather than just jumping to the step of blowing it up. But to do this, you have to listen for the tumblers falling into place. I’ve been around long enough to know the value of listening."

You can sum up Michael Sutherland’s 35 years of work as a bankruptcy attorney in a few brief words: his first aim is to fix broken companies.

“Anyone can figure out a way to burn it down,” he says. “That’s sometimes necessary but doesn’t take much skill. But fixing the company and its problems is the most rewarding work there is.”

His clients have included large corporate debtors, lenders, healthcare companies, airlines and retail giants, as well as not-for-profits and municipalities. He has also defended officers and directors in cases of alleged negligence and fellow bankruptcy attorneys in cases of alleged malpractice, as well as a range of other business clients.

A common theme runs through Michael’s work, whatever the fact situation is: he believes in anticipating problems and in including people in discussions instead of excluding them.

Of course, he knows when it’s time to fight as well as when it’s time to negotiate. Understanding the difference and fitting the solution to the facts has brought him loyal clients and recognition on the list of Texas Super Lawyers, in Bankruptcy and Workout from 2004–2021, as published in Texas Monthly.

As Michael says, anybody can pick a fight. He prefers to bring parties together and reason things out because this is often the most productive, and cost-effective approach to fixing what’s broken and to getting back to business. However, when it’s time to fight, not everyone is prepared to finish – Michael and the litigators at Carrington Coleman may be slow to pick a fight in a reorganization matter but are not reluctant to carry one through to the end.

Honors and Distinctions

Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell

Best Lawyers in America, 2016–2021, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law.

D Magazine Best Lawyers in Dallas, 2015–2019, Bankruptcy and Workout.

Chambers USA‘s America’s Leading Lawyers for Business from 2004 to the present.

Texas Super Lawyers, in Bankruptcy and Workout, from 2004–2021, as published in Texas Monthly.


C0-Author, U.S. Supreme Court: Fraud by Any Other Name, Carrington Coleman Capital Newsletter, 2016 Issue Two.

Co-Author: Current Case Law Update: Business Bankruptcy (May 2016).

Co-Author, Fifth Circuit Sets New Standard for Professional Fee Compensation in Bankruptcy Cases, Carrington Coleman Capital Newsletter, 2015 Issue Three.

Co-Author: Recent Circuit Cases Threaten Cramdown Of Lenders in Chapter 11, Carrington Coleman Capital Newsletter (Spring 2013).

Insurance and Indemnification of Directors and Officers: Avoiding Pitfalls 2011, Corp. Counsel Review (February 2012).

A Practical Guide to Insurance and Indemnification of Directors and Officers, The University of Texas School of Law, 29th Annual Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference (November 2010).

Malpractice Issues in Bankruptcy Cases; Bankruptcy Issues in Malpractice Cases, 26th Annual Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference, November 2007.

Co-author and former editor: Bankruptcy Strategies for Lenders, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1993 (originally entitled Practical Bankruptcy for Creditors, Professional Education Systems, Inc., 1985).

Contributing author, Advanced Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Practice (Thomas J. Salerno, editor), (Wiley Law Publications, 1987).

Court Admissions

Texas, 1981

U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court


University of Texas
J.D., 1981

Abilene Christian University
B.A., summa cum laude, 1976.
Member: Alpha Chi


Member: State Bar of Texas

Past President: Tarrant County Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section

Master: John C. Ford American Inn of Court